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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 4, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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etting what news you can from your source close to this family. we appreciate it very much. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me here the last two hours in new york. we will send it to washington. my colleague jake tapper. "the lead" starts right now. a rare and unreal video with all too real consequences. i'm jake tapper. this is "the lead." the world lead. you see it out of the corner of your eye, don't believe it's actually happening until it's too late. a plane in taiwan careening into a bridge. now at least 31 people are dead as investigators go back through the frame by frame video. will they see anything that explains why this happened? and isis put the jordanian pilot in a cage and they watched him burn. the terrorists still have an american aid worker in their hands. what does the terrorist group have planned for her? and the national lead. a metro north train ride
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transformed into a desperate rush to escape an inferno but there were four high profile accidents on metro north rail in 2013. could anything have been done to stop this one? good afternoon. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with our world lead. it's a sight we almost never get to see. usually we only witness the grim aftermath of a plane crash, but this time incredible if upsetting dash-cam video capturing an airplane going down. it's a rare opportunity for investigators to piece together specifically what led to this tragedy to try to make sure it never happens again. the death toll climbing from this plane crash in taiwan. we now know 31 lives at least were lost when the wing of this transasia flight clipped a taxicab on a bridge and plunged into a river. 15 others survived. 12 are still missing. another view shows that cab's front end ripped apart.
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the two people inside thankfully barely hurt also incredibly and thankfully many on the plane managed to escape. you can even see a young child among those rescued, pulled to safety on lifeboats. it's almost 5:30 in the morning now in taiwan it's almost going to be. we have seen crews combing through this scene ever since the crash. the big question here why was the pilot flying so low, was he trying to pull off some sort of landing like sully's 2009 miracle on the hudson because something went so wrong with the plane? let's bring in cnn's joe johns. what are you learning about the crash? what happened? >> you said it there. this is something for the investigator to try to get to the bottom of. but what's clear from the cockpit recordings we have already heard is that the pilot knew that plane was in trouble and there was at least enough time to make a mayday call. this suggests to some experts there was enough time to at least try to control the descent of the plane.
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the video is astonishing. recorded by dashboard cameras in two different cars on a freeway in taiwan. the transasia airways propellor plane less than a year old with 58 people on board. at least 31 people on board died but amazingly, there were survivors. the dramatic rescue effort found a toddler still alive, taken to the shore in a boat. responders in rescue boats pulled more survivors from the mangled plane and the water, carrying them up the embankment on to dry land. the passenger and driver of the taxi were injured but survived. the plane had just taken off from taipei airport in taiwan en route to kenmen. shortly after the flight took off, at about 1500 feet the cockpit radioed for help. >> mayday mayday. >> it looks like the left propellor which would be the left engine, was the source of the problem and that it wasn't turning, so i do think it looks like they were having some sort of left engine problem.
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rnlgts the >> the investigation is still in the early stages but it is the latest problem for transasia. records show it is the fifth crash for the airline since 1995. the latest coming in july where 44 of 54 passengers on board were killed. >> statistically speaking just an outrageous outrageously bad safety record. >> reporter: the latest accident in taiwan is reminiscent of a january 1982 plane crash in washington, d.c. air florida flight 90 hit a bridge across the potomac river before going into the icy water. five survived 69 died. passersby tried to save them. >> i took my coat off and my boots and dove in. >> reporter: data show the odds of surviving a plane crash depend on how high the plane was flying whether there's a fire and how quickly rescuers can get there. transasia has about 20 planes and reports out of taiwan suggest it was planning on doubling its fleet size over the next five years, but that safety record is an issue. >> joe johns, thank you so much.
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we want to give you another perspective of that dramatic plane crash in taiwan. the crash captured on at least two dash-cams. the cameras are not really all that uncommon in that part of the country. you can hear the shock from a woman who saw the plane literally fall from the sky. [ screaming ] >> it appears the pilot had a daunting landscape to maneuver after taking off from the airport in taipei. even before anything went wrong, cnn's tom forman joins me now. he tracks the plane's path. also joining me cnn safety analyst david soucy. let me start with you, tom, on the plane's navigation. what can you show us? >> we know this was taking off over a very busy area. think about this aircraft as we stop it right here. from this wing tip to this wing tip is about 88 feet. at takeoff maximum weight is around 50,000 pounds. this plane took off at about 135 miles an hour. it could have been up to 150
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miles an hour instead of 135 miles an hour if it were taking off at the proper speed. seemed like they were fine there. less than two minutes, this thing got up in the air, suddenly had this tremendous loss of power and then came down here. by the time it hit this road down in this area it was going about 100 miles an hour. that's fast but it's not fast for an aircraft when it made this impact here and then it went over the edge. here are a couple other things to note. you mentioned just a minute ago this question of the props here. if you look at the one over here on the right side of the plane, where it's believed perhaps the engine was operating properly you can see a lot of motion blur here. it's really hard to make out the props. over here on the other side you can see many of the props fairly clearly. again, analysts all day have been saying this may suggest that this engine wasn't turning at this point. but important to note as we play this one out and you see this go all the way through, look at the other video coming in here. a couple of things worth noting. one is when the plane initially comes into sight over here this plane is more or less level
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here. this was the second turn to the left. early on when they seemed to have a decrease in speed as they were climbing very early, you saw the plane suddenly bank hard to the left. this final turn which occurs here it's coming in level and then very dramatically very suddenly there's that hard bank right before it gets to the bridge. that was a dramatic change near the end there, jake. so this wasn't the first turn so if it was based on the engine making it turn that would seem to be more associated with when it first lost power there. >> tom, the pilot having to navigate around all those buildings, we know the plane clipped a car on the bridge. how close did it seem to be to hitting other buildings or other cars? >> very close. by the time this thing came in it was maybe 200 feet off the ground or something so these are the buildings that it came in over. it would have just barely cleared these, as you can see in that video. this is from the perspective of what the pilot would have seen
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coming this way versus the ground level. he's up higher. here's another thing that's interesting to note in all this. we keep seeing this bridge all day. this is that bridge. that bridge is actually about six stories in the air. so he was way down close to the ground at this point but still, he possibly had some air to work with at some point but he had a lot of buildings and he had a lot of potential people who could be hurt in there if he went into one of those buildings and the same when he reached this bridge. he simply had a lot of obstacles in front of him the minute he started not climbing. that was a huge challenge that perhaps would be different if you are out in the countryside with an airport that had a lot of open space around it. >> thank you so much. david soucy, let me bring you in. you used to investigate plane crashes for the faa. what can you tell by looking at these dash cam videos? >> i have gone through each of them frame by frame. as you can see in those frames the propellors get out of sync. in other words, like tom pointed out, you can see the propellors on the left side not so much on the right side.
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individual frames can capture it differently, however, if you go frame by frame, you can see that they went out of sync meaning the left propellor lost power as tom had said. now, also those propellors are designed to go into a feather mode so that it doesn't just sit out there like a piece of board or wood stopping that left side. so when it goes into feather mode there shouldn't be a lot of restriction on the left side which would tell me if the auto feather was working, that this movement to the left was intentional by the pilot to avoid the buildings as tom said and to make an attempt to reduce fatalities by trying to get it on to the water and miss the obstructed bridge. >> obviously it's very early but does it appear to you because you are experienced in looking at plane crashes that the pilot was trying to hit the water, the plane in other words, out of control and he was trying for the softest landing he could do? >> there is only two reasons it would have made that second turn. there are two turns there. the first turn to me could have been from the loss of power while the engines were failing. the second turn looks intentional to me like he was
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trying to get on to the water to reduce fatalities. yes. i firmly believe that at this point. >> what about taipei? what about the difficulty of taking off and landing? is there anything particularly tough about that airport? >> there is. i have done surveillance on airlines that fly into taipei and taken off out of that airport myself before. the difficulty there is if you lose an engine in that critical phase of flight you are trained to just continue straight just continue straight it's the best lift and the engine will allow you to continue to travel. he made the decision obviously at that point he didn't have enough power to continue to climb, he knew he was going down. you don't have a lot of choices. you are either going to run into a lot of apartment buildings and kill a lot of people on the ground and have very low chance of survival or you are going to make that turn hard left into the river which is what again, i think he did make that conscious decision to do that. >> david soucy and tom forman thank you both. >> looking at that unbelievable video, it's truly a miracle that
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anyone survived the crash, but there were more than a dozen survivors plucked out of the water, including a toddler you saw in the video. now the big question did the pilot as david said intentionally try to crash the plane into the water in order to save lives? we will talk about that and much more next. why do we do it? why do we spend every waking moment, thinking about people? why are we so committed to keeping you connected? why combine performance with a conscience? why innovate for a future without accidents? why do any of it? why do all of it? because if it matters to you it's everything to us. the xc60 crossover. from volvo. lease the well-equipped volvo xc60 today. visit your local volvo showroom for details.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. another look at this terrifying dash cam video. a transasia flight just moments after takeoff in taiwan flipping a bridge and ending up in the river below. at least 31 people were killed in this crash. amazingly, 15 others survived. cnn's david mulko joins me now from china.
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thanks for joining us. a toddler was among those who escaped. what else are you learning about those who managed to survive, thankfully? >> reporter: jake when you see that video, it is absolutely harrowing and incredible that anybody was able to survive or even walk away. 15 injuries 15 survivors, as you mentioned. one story we picked up from taiwan's official news agency is that of a father who was on board with his wife and a 1-year-old toddler. we are told they were all injured. the father very slightly but they became separated at some point. the wife and toddler were taken to separate hospitals and we are told the father was so desperate trying to find where they were that he picked up a bike and rode that bike injured to the hospital to try to find his wife and his toddler. jake one of the other things more than 30 of those on board were tourists traveling from mainland china, including several children according to taiwanese authorities.
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they are going to help facilitate to bring them over those families over to hopefully hope for the best hopefully be reunited with their relatives. of course 12 people remain unaccounted for at this point. with the lunar new year here big holiday, time for families to get together across greater china, taiwan hong kong and beyond. certainly many hoping for the best at this point and just our prayers are with them as well. >> david molko, thank you so much. appreciate it. so how can a crash like this claim so many lives while other passengers walk away with just scratches or even less? does it depend on where the passengers were sitting or how they braced themselves for the impact of the crash? what makes the difference between life and death? i'm joined by cnn aviation analyst mary schiavo. thank you for joining us. what's the biggest factor that determines the survivability in a crash like this? >> well it's not a factor here
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but in most accidents, it's fire. in most crashes. if there's a fire the key is being able to get out, being near an exit door being near a break in the plane, the plane often breaks at the nose breaks at the tail. those are typical places. so that's often the determining factor. in the last year of course we have seen three planes fall from 35,000 feet. they are simply not survivable and you won't see that there. and in planes such as go off the end of the runway et cetera some of that is the training and structures in the plane. seats now, they used to be 6g now they are 10g seats, they stay attached and don't collapse on each other and the brace position. there has even been some change in that. now they say you put your feet behind your knees, not put them out in front of you so your own knees don't injure you. there's a lot of studies going on on survivability. >> is there a better place to sit on a plane, the back versus the front, for example, that helps to increase one's chance
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of survival? i know every crash is different but on average? >> yes. where there's a fire involved being near the greatest concentration of exit doors has proved to be life-saving. if you can get out where there's smoke and fire you have a much better chance and usually that's closest to a door or exit window. >> what about the way the plane came down? do you think -- it's all conjecture but do you think the pilot did that on purpose as david soucy, formerly an faa investigator believes and do you think that maneuver may have saved the lives of those who survived? >> i do and he was pretty close, or she, the pilot, were very close to actually saving many more. in so many accidents where they are coming down short of the runway or they have an emergency and the pilots are able to get that plane down close to the ground and control it almost all the way down here they probably would have made it at least many more would have survived if that wing hadn't dropped and they hadn't scraped the wing.
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so many accidents where the pilots are able to control it most of the way down but then it clips a wing sioux city this one, the one of the ethiopian carrier, they were so close to actually having made it but just at the last minute a wing catches and then the plane tumbles or catapults. here a second more just a hundred feet more of altitude and maybe they all would have survived. >> heartbreaking. thank you so much. appreciate it. coming up jordan's king vowing revenge while isis supporters cheer as they watch that sick propaganda video of the jordanian pilot being burned alive. how involved will the united states be in avenging his death? plus a packed commuter train slamming into an suv sitting on the tracks in new york. ahead, new video from inside the train just seconds after the crash. was the train going too fast to stop? discover card. hey! so i'm looking
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sleep train's presidents' day sale is on now! ...guaranteed! ♪ sleep train ♪ ♪ your ticket to a better night's sleep ♪ welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. isis took its barbaric shot and
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now jordan's king says the terrorist group will get payback in spades. a u.s. senator tells me that yesterday, in a meeting with u.s. congressional leaders, king abdullah quoted clint eastwood from the movie "unforgiven" to describe how his country would respond after isis burned a jordanian pilot alive. the quote comes from the end of the climax of the film after eastwood has shot the main bad guy. >> i see you out there, i'm going to kill him. he [ bleep ] takes a shot at me not only am i going to kill him, i'm going to kill his wife all his friends, burn his [ bleep ] house down. >> the warning from king abdullah to isis. today, more details about what that sentiment might actually mean for the terrorists who slaughtered jordan's native son. earlier this afternoon a u.s. official telling cnn that the jordanians want to play a larger role in the coalition air campaign against isis to do more of the actual bombing.
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let's go right to cnn's barbara starr, live at the pentagon. what can you tell us? >> reporter: jake we know the jordanians already are in the process of stepping up increasing their participation in the coalition air strikes over syria. but the question is will any of the air strikes really change the balance of power in the isis strongholds. as people march across jordan king abdullah vowing a severe response to the murder of jordanian pilot mu'ath al kaseasbeh. jordanian troops lining up to pay their respects to the pilot's family. but in roqqa, syria, cheering as video of the pilot's execution was shown on big screens. all of this raising more concern about remaining hostages including a british journalist and a female american aid worker.
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and new questions about the dangers of the air war. the united arab emirates stopped its air strikes, worried if one of its pilots went down whether u.s. b-22s are close enough to even attempt a rescue. a nightmare scenario for every country. is this administration prepared for the possibility that an american pilot could go down over iraq or syria? >> barbara, any time you introduce american military power anywhere in the region there is always risk, absolutely there's risk where people who are conducting strikes in syria. >> reporter: jordan wants to increase its air strikes but it may not be so easy. >> they will have a difficult time doing that on their own. they need a bit of help when it comes to planning a modern campaign against moving targets like this. >> reporter: u.s. officials insist no change in military strategy is being contemplated.
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but in his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense, ash carter suggested time could be running out. >> you don't want them to settle in and you don't want the population to settle in to having isil rule them in their barbaric way. >> reporter: raising real doubts about whether the coalition is winning the war. >> isis still controls large amounts of territory. it has not been rolled back by the air campaign. it has not been rolled back by any of the other actions. >> we are not winning and that is the opinion of outside military experts, literally every one of them i know. >> reporter: jordan now is also asking the u.s. to speed up the sale of key military items, including precision bombs and other military gear that could help it in these new rounds of air strikes. jake? >> barbara starr at the pentagon thanks so much. state department spokeswoman jen psaki joins us live. first, i want to get you to respond to what senator mccain
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just said in that clip we are not winning the war against isis. that's the opinion of every outside military leader i know. your response? >> well look i think with all due respect to senator mccain and every member of congress can speak their mind. we are in a democracy. we believe and we have seen evidence that we back territory. we have seen progress made in iraq but this will be a long-term effort. we did not expect to have won this degrade and completely defeat isil, in a handful of months. we are continuing to build up this effort and we expect to continue to make progress. >> speaking of progress, the united arab emirates has suspended its air campaign against isis. apparently this is over concerns about the safety of their pilots would they to be shot down. i don't want to belittle the concern, but this is war. what kind of guarantee was the uae seeking for its pilots? >> well i will let the uae speak to that. i will say that this coalition
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is about more than just a military campaign. i know that the military component is what makes the headlines and what perhaps is the sexiest out there but there are a number of efforts the uae and other countries in the coalition are participating in. cracking down on foreign fighters taking steps to lock down their finances. these are all efforts that are also ongoing. >> a senior obama administration official told me yesterday before the meeting with king abdullah of jordan that the white house did not think it would be a good idea for jordan to execute its prisoners in response to the isis murder of the pilot. jordan did it anyway. was this a mistake? >> look i think we see and we understand and unfortunately, we relate to the pain that the people of jordan are going through, and the difficult decisions of the government. i would remind everyone that these were two individuals who were convicted and sentenced to death through the judicial system in jordan. yes, they were killed overnight
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but we support our partner, jordan and we are certainly looking forward to continuing to work with them in degrading and defeating isil. >> isis is holding other hostages including an american woman, an aid worker. i know there's probably very little you can tell us about her for her own safety but what do we know about her condition and is there any discussion going on about negotiating for her release in any way? >> i'm not going to discuss specifically any hostages that are held around the world by isil or anyone else for respect for their safety for respect for their families. we do take every step possible. we often don't outline those publicly as you know whether that's military steps we have taken in the past other steps to work through interlocutors. i can assure you every day this is an issue we are talking about but unfortunately, i can't outline specifics. >> we know people in the administration are hopeful that the murder of this jordanian pilot will have the effect of
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further turning the local population in the middle east against isis but as we just saw in barbara's piece, in roqqa, syria, isis was showing the video of the jordanian pilot's murder as if it were a drive-in movie entertainment. ultimately do you think this act will be more of a recruiting tool or more of something that will backfire? >> well there's no question that isil has an effective propaganda machine and they have used that to recruit. that's one of the reasons why delegitimizing them and using important officials in the arab world to do that is one of the components of our efforts. but i would also say i can't unfortunately do better than quoting from "unforgiven" but you have seen the anger and outrage in response to the latest violence in the video against the jordanian pilot, and this is something that people across the arab world and people across the world are just being reminded of the brutality and how awful isil is. i think that will strengthen the
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resolve of many countries and many people in many parts of the world. >> jen psaki, thank you. appreciate it. >> just today, former cia director mike morell said it would take at least 100,000 troops on the ground to put an end to isis but is president obama willing to consider sending american troops back into iraq? one republican says he will have to if the president wants to protect the u.s. from an attack by isis on the american homeland. senator lindsey graham explains next. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality for over 19 million people. [ alex ] transamerica helped provide a lifetime of retirement income. so i can focus on what matters most. [ female announcer ] everyone has a moment when tomorrow becomes real. transamerica. moderate to severe crohn's disease is tough but i've managed. except that managing my symptoms was all i was doing. and when i finally told my doctor, he said humira is for adults like me who have tried other medications but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. and that in clinical studies
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we will continue with our world lead now. the battle to defeat isis and the coalition's response to a heinous murder video showing the captured jordanian pilot being burned alive. jordan's king abdullah is promising an earth-shaking response. joining me in studio is republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina a member of the house armed services committee. thank you for being here. you met with jordan's king
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abdullah yesterday. broadly speaking have you seen a reaction from the leaders of the arab world that you want to see? are they rising to the challenge of isis? >> no. we were in saudi arabia a few days before the king died. they said you can have our whole army but i got to deal with assad. we are willing to go in on the ground in syria but you've got to deal with assad. turkey is saying we need a no-fly zone before we go in on the ground to deal with isil and assad. part of it is our fault, but at the end of the day, i think the arab world, hopefully this will be a wakeup call. the king of jordan is very committed to delivering a message to isil but his capabilities are not there. he's running out of fuel and bombs. we will give him more bombs and more fuel and they will put every fighter in the air they can, but at the end of the day it's going to take a regional force beyond jordan. >> we learned that uae,
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traditionally heralded in the united states as a reliable arab ally, that the uae has basically dropped out of the coalition against isis. were you surprised when you heard that? >> no arab countries have flown since december 24th in syria except jordan. we are flying 80% of the combat missions inside of syria. jordan's had about 600 hours of flight. all of the arab coalition members combined have been less than 150 hours of combat time in syria. >> i don't mean to be glib about this but my understanding is that the uae stopped flying missions after the jordanian pilot was captured because they were afraid of what might happen to their pilots and the part that i don't want to be glib about is this is war. you can't guarantee anything for your pilots so i don't really understand that as a reason for dropping out. do you? >> no, i don't. and i don't understand why we don't have a ground component being formed as i speak. an aerial campaign can affect isil on the margins. they are still gaining territory in syria. but we don't have a component in syria. we've got the iraqi security
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forces eventually to work with we have the kurds and hopefully the sunni tribes in western anbar province inside iraq but when it comes to syria, the free syrian army has been decimated. we are trying to build 4,000, 5,000 capacity in the coming year but if you send a man without dealing with assad, he will barrel bomb them and kill them all. so we need a regional force, turkey and saudi arabia and egypt are your anchor tenets. they've got large armies. they need to say tomorrow in my view we are going in on the ground in syria, we are going to clear the region of isil we are going to go in the name of islam to take back our religion and we are going to hold this territory and give the syrian people a new chance on life. >> you think the u.s. should have troops on the ground as well? you said as much but i guess my question is the former acting director of the cia today on cbs said that force to destroy isis will have to be up to 100,000 people.
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how many u.s. troops should be in that 100,000? >> the general tells me that i talked to about 10,000. that most of the capability will come from within the region but when it comes to special forces we are the best in the world, intelligence gathering, logistics. that type of capability that's missing in arab armies how do you maneuver in the field, how do you communicate, how do you get the troops to places they need to go. some helicopter capacity. but it will be a fraction of the force needed but if you don't go in on the ground you will never defeat isil. if you go in on the ground, you have to deal with assad. this is where president obama has made a huge mistake. his unwillingness to take assad on and to tell him about any equivocation you cannot stay in syria, you have to go. the day that he leaves the playing field, all things become possible in syria. isil is becoming an outlier by the day. this burning of this pilot alive i think is a tipping point. but you need american leadership
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to rally the region and here's my comment to the american people. i wish there was no need to send anybody back into iraq and syria, but isil wants to strike us too. the threat to our homeland that's presented from isil's presence in syria and iraq grows by the day so it is in our national security interests, not just the region's interest to degrade and destroy. the president's got the right goal but the policy and strategy is failing and we are running out of time. >> senator graham, thank you so much for being with us. coming up six dead after a commuter train crashes into an suv sitting on the tracks in new york. we are just now learning new details about the investigation. how will the train engineer who is expected to survive explain this crash? plus with a drastic spike in measles cases across the country, why hasn't the surgeon general been out there and more vocal in urging parents to vaccinate their children? well dr. sanjay gupta asked him. that's ahead.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. time for our national lead.
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today, the ntsb the national transportation safety board, is on the scene in valhala, new york. we are waiting for the ntsb officials to update us at the top of the hour about that horrific crash, the metro north train that speared an suv stuck on the tracks creating a fire that apparently burned so hot, it melted the windows on the train. now, earlier today, governor andrew cuomo confirmed that last night's metro north crash left six people dead and medical officials now say eight people hurt in that wreck are in the hospital right now. doctors saying one of those patients is in critical condition. cnn transportation correspondent rene marsh is there at the crash site. rene multiple probes into the incident already under way. officials saying this morning the driver of the train is expected to survive. what are investigators going to ask him first, do you think? >> reporter: we do know that so far, the ntsb has not started the interview process yet.
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they hope to do that in another 24 to 48 hours. when they do they will ask how much sleep this individual received, what was the work schedule what was the shift. they want to essentially find out many things because everything is on the table, human error, mechanical error. they also want to know was anything wrong with the train in the moments leading up to this impact because at this hour jake the question still remains, how did that suv get stuck on the tracks. smoke and flames poured out of a packed metro north train after the rail line's deadliest crash yet. five people dead in the blazing inferno. >> the bodies are all from the front car because the bodies are all very badly burned and unidentifiable. >> reporter: at least 15 injured after the commuter train slammed into a mercedes suv stuck on the tracks. it was crushed and tossed 400 feet. the driver was the sixth
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fatality. >> the train went silent. you could tell there was panic going on toward the front of the train, like walk back, walk back. >> keep going! >> reporter: new video from inside the train shows how packed it was. more than 600 people were on board. the electrified third rail rammed through the train. smoke filled the cars and the temperature rose. >> there was a passenger that ran past me, help had blood on his face and people were pulling the windows off trying to get out through the emergency windows. >> we were able to get off in time but it was scary. >> reporter: the ntsb is getting its first look at the crash site. you see investigators there surrounding that first burned car of the train. the first step in this process is documenting all of the wreckage. investigators have the train's event recorders which will tell how fast the train was traveling and when brakes were applied. they are also examining the rail crossing signals.
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>> we know we want to send somebody to look at the signals, the rail traffic signals, the highway signals, as well as the crossing arms and each of those devices has a recorder on it. >> reporter: hundreds of passengers self-evacuated. some say they were on their own without instructions. any indication at this point whether this process of getting passengers off the train happened fast enough? have you had a chance to speak to passengers? >> in this press briefing i'm going to discuss the ntsb's investigative processes, because we have not confirmed any of that at this point. we will. by the time we have completed this investigation, we will know everything that we need to know. >> reporter: this is not the first time there has been death on metro north's tracks. december 2013 a metro north derailment killed four passengers in the bronx after the train's engineer fell asleep.
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at this point we just found out the event recorder from the train is now on its way to washington, d.c. for analysis. also the plan is for the train as well as that suv to be removed from the tracks so they can eventually get it open and of course get a closer look at the suv and train. back to you, jake. >> rene marsh, thank you so much. in the wake of a growing measles outbreak it seems as though everyone from celebrities to politicians has weighed in on vaccinations whether or not they should be mandatory or voluntary. so why has it taken so long for the nation's top doctor the surgeon general, to speak up? dr. sanjay gupta will ask him next.
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now with the xfinity tv go app, you can watch live tv anytime. it's never been easier with so many networks all in one place. get live tv whenever you want. the xfinity tv go app. now with live tv on the go. enjoy over wifi or on verizon wireless 4g lte. plus enjoy special savings when you purchase any new verizon wireless smartphone or tablet from comcast. visit to learn more. welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the national lead now. the emotional and too often ill-informed debate over vaccines has now become a top issue for the newly appointed surgeon general. he is making so-called house
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calls all across the country where he is urging people to get their children immunized. cnn chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta caught up with the surgeon general. so good to have you here in studio. given what's happened with the outbreak did the surgeon general say if there has been any talk of some sort of federal mandate of vaccines? >> that's where we started, that's where we ended the conversation. that collision between individual choice and this mandated vaccine, something that's more official more federal, that's the first question i asked. take a listen. just to be clear, you would not recommend mandating vaccines at this time? except for medical exemptions, correct? >> yes. that's correct. >> and you would not want to significantly change the opt-out process, the exemption process overall? you still want to allow people to exempt based on personal religious or medical reasons? >> well on that one, i would say while i don't necessarily believe that we are at a stage where we need a federal mandate
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when it comes to vaccinations i am not in favor of an expanded exemption process and i'm concerned as it is that the current exemption process in some states is too permissive. >> he talked about the fact that he wants to cut down on the number of people who can say no to these vaccines. since 2009 there have been 31 more bills introduced to expand the exemptions. they haven't necessarily passed but there is a lot of momentum about letting people opt out of these vaccines. >> except when they opt out they put not only their own children but other children at risk. obviously there is an education process about vaccines that's failing in this country. does he have a plan to help fix that to convince parents that it's much more safe to have your kids immunized than to not? >> you mentioned at the beginning he's on this listening tour going around the country. when i asked him specifically what is the problem here why don't people want to get their vaccines it doesn't seem that the education is really a
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problem. maybe it is maybe it isn't. that's what i really wanted to drill down with him on. here's how he answered that. >> you recently said when you were in kansas that you are concerned that many people haven't gotten the message about the safety of vaccines and the fact there's no link between vaccines and autism. you think people really haven't gotten the message or are they choosing not to hear it? >> well i think it's a combination of the two. i think there are many people out there who have not gotten the message. they may have read on the internet or heard from friends who come with the best of intentions but who may have misinformation about this subject, and i just want to be very clear, this link that was purportedly made between autism and the measles vaccine, that was debunked that is not correct. there is no evidence that the measles vaccine causes autism. >> you know this is obviously a message we are hearing from lots of different people but he doesn't think that despite all these messages that have gotten out there, as much as people
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have been talking about it he still thinks a significant part of the population believes these things. it's not that they are willfully ignoring it. he believes they actually don't think vaccines are safe. so that's why he's on this tour. >> this has been going on for a little while now this outbreak of measles didn't just happen. why did he wait until now? >> he got nominated november of 2013. it took december of '14 for him to actually get confirmed. it was a year and he just started on the job right before the holidays. it's been interesting. you have tom freeden who has been very vocal after ebola. who will emerge as the spokesperson around these issues remains to be seen. he's pretty new at this sort of thing. infectious disease is not his expertise. i don't know. the surgeon general role is defined very much by the inhabitants. we will see how he does. he is literally just starting his career here. >> your position position of my dad, a pediatrician get your kids immunized, it is the safest thing to do. >> get them immunized and do it
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on schedule as well. >> dr. sanjay gupta, thank you. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, deadly crash on camera. an airliner suddenly cartwheels into view clips a car and bridge and slams into a river. survivors' stories. incredibly many passengers including young children lived through the crash. some swimming away from the wreckage. we will learn how they did it. and jordan strikes back. a u.s. ally retaliates for the savage murder of its captured pilot by hanging two terrorists. now it vows a relentless war against isis. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."